Tennessee Turkeys

np307

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Jun 25, 2018
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North Carolina
Tennessee is under a current study to understand the declines in the turkey population which was put in place by the Wildlife Commission. So when you also promote more hunting of a declining population you can see where the chase for money is at odds with managing the wildlife.
I mean, you responded to my first post in this thread too, so I would assume you noticed that I didn't excuse TN in this situation?
 

Bux_N_Beards

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Aug 8, 2014
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First, I take no issues with NR hunters, as I’m one myself in several states.

But the TWRC as mentioned previously in this thread is not listening to their constituents and is using an unstable to declining resource as a revenue tool, at the expenses of hunters and the resource. That should concern residents and nonresidents alike.

For starters, managing a state with as much biodiversity as TN with a one size fits all turkey program is, in and of itself, absurd at best. One the western end you’ve got the flood prone Mississippi River bottoms and on the eastern end the Appalachian mountains. In between is a mix of all sorts of varied terrain from agriculture to woodlands, to a mix of both. And the population dynamics vary WIDELY by region. But we’ve got a 6 week season, and until last spring, a 4 bird limit, which is now 3.

I personally think the commission is promoting both turkeys and fisheries to offset realized and potential pending losses from CWD in the western end of the state’s deer herd. As background, when the disease was initially found, it was at a prevalence rate at or near some of the highest counties in Wisconsin (at least in the core area). There are vastly fewer people hunting in this area now, and despite insanely liberal bag limits and the state begging people to shoot as many deer as possible, people simply aren’t hunting. I live and hunt in this zone and have my entire life. The transformation in a matter of 3 seasons is unbelievable. Personally, I think the entire hunting culture and deer herd will not recover in our lifetime, and it saddens me in more ways than I can describe.

But back to the turkeys, you can watch the TWRC meetings online. They typically review the turkey “input” period in May/June. The meeting in 2020 was disgusting. To hear commissioners claim they only received a handful of responses from concerned sportsman was a joke. I personally know a rather large group of people, myself included, that contacted their commissioners directly. When it came to vote (shorter seasons, reduced bag limits), it mostly fell on deaf ears and was blamed on not wanting to disrupt an ongoing turkey study in a few counties in Middle TN. The bag limit reduction to 3 was merely a compromise. It was a joke.

So now bordering states, who are listening to sportsmen and qualified biologists, such as MS, AL, GA, and AR have restricted seasons, bag limits, and made some traditionally open public areas draw hunts in the early season, as they are concerned about declining trends in the population. While that is potentially a step in the right direction (time will tell) it now makes TN ever MORE attractive to the traveling turkey hunter wanting to hunt well in advance of the opener in most states. And the TWRC is going all in to promote it.

I’m fortunate to primarily hunt private land in TN, but do hunt public in other states and travel to turkey hunt myself, and have well before it became the glorified fad it is today. When there are 10 trucks parked on 500 acres of public, with 2-3 guys per truck, chasing the 1 gobbling bird on that tract, you have to ask yourself if we’re really doing what’s best for the resource. Not to mention it’s dangerous - especially if half of those hunters’ only knowledge of ethics is watching their favorite YouTuber belly crawl on a turkey with a fan and try to snipe him at 70 yards with TSS (which for the record I shoot as well, but not to be a long range turkey sniper).

I look at how the western states I hunt adjust bag limits and set quotas based on harvest data and population studies. TN has had a big game tagging system for as long as I’ve hunted 35+ years) and has a host of data to go on, but they don’t seem to want to use it. It’s frustrating seeing resources in the state they’re in when we have more data and knowledge than ever to inform decision making.


This is worth a watch. Cameron does an excellent job in summarizing a lot of what has been touched on in this thread.

Sorry for the rant. Season opens Saturday and can’t get here soon enough :cool:
 

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